T-Mobile Sidekick 4G hands-onSee all photos
We're going to start with that five-row keyboard, since we know that's what you're really after. Much like its Sidekick 3 and iD older brothers, the slightly-curved keys are almost perfectly spaced, and while they aren't rubbery like those on the Sidekick LX, they do have a nice smooth coating. However, there's going to be no covert texting in class with this one -- those keys along with the plastic home, jump, back, and menu buttons make noticeable clicking noises. So, how's the sliding mechanism? We admit we miss the 180-degree swivel, but the slider actually doesn't feel half bad. The rest of the primarily-plastic hardware feels decent for a mid-range phone, but has nothing on something higher-end like the G2. Sadly, as you will notice in the gallery, that there's no flash on the back, though there is a front-facing camera.
Software-wise, T-Mobile and Samsung have done some significant skinning to Android 2.2, and perhaps, the most polarizing change comes with the relocation of the phone, apps, and contact tabs to the right side of the screen when in landscape mode. The biggest addition comes with the jump menu -- you can launch the shortcut menu by holding down the jump button and then either use a keyboard shortcut or the touchscreen to make the "jump." Other software tweaks include a restyled music app and an unique unlock screen -- for the latter, you can swipe up and configure it to launch a specific app. We're hoping to bring you an in-depth review of the next generation Sidekick soon, but our short time with it has us convinced that more than a few Sidekick-devotees will be shelling out that $99.99 when the 4G goes on sale this spring.